Broadcast Industry Standard Head Format

The head format is what is on your broadcast television or film tape or file before the start of the actual program. Often networks, film distributors or broadcast facilities will have a set format that they want for thier projects which they will provide you in the spec sheets that they send out. If this is not the case an industry standard head format can be set up as seen below. You should set up a timeline using the correct time code that you is required for your project. A standard head format would begin 2 minutes before the start of program and be laid out as follows

Head Format

  • 00:58:00:00 Black & Silence
  • 00:58:30:00 Bars* & 1K Tones at -20dbfs
  • 00:58:30:00 Black & Silence
  • 00:59:40:00 Slate & Silence**
  • 00:59:50:00 Black & Silence ***
  • 00:59:58;00 2-Pop****
  • 01:00:00:00 Start of program (first audio or first video, whichever comes up first

  • * Most color bars used today are known as SMPTE (Society of motion picture & television engineers) bars, there are other variation of bars such as PLUGE, split field and more, this should also be covered in the spec sheet that a distributor or network would give a film maker or TV producer

    ** The Slate is a card that explains what the program is and would contain the following: Program title, standard / format, timecode type, run time, audio configuration, date, and other relevant information

    *** An optional 10 second countdown can be inserted in place of black, which will contain the 2-pop as the countdown gets to 2 seconds

**** The 2-Pop is used for synching audio & video If there is a 10 second countdown the 1 frame duration beep at -20 dbfs will be heard as the countdown hits 2 seconds remaining, if no countdown is present a white frame lasting 1 frame in duration accompanied by a one frame beep at -20 dbfs can be used.
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